Rhett Umphress

The Ball State University gymnastics team has announced the signing of two gymnasts as part of the 2010-2011 freshman class.

Kayla Hani and Leah Wilson signed their national letters of intent last week, according to a Ball State press release.

"They are both experienced gymnasts," coach Nadalie Walsh said. "They both showed clean performances and a high level of skill."

Walsh said that she learned about the two women through the promotional materials that they sent out about themselves, including YouTube clips that were posted of both in competition.

"The girls did a really good job of marketing themselves," Walsh said.

Both are members of the Orlando Metro Gymnastics Club, which is one of the more well-known clubs in the nation, according to Walsh.

"The club is known for gymnasts that are very clean," Walsh said. "They use strict discipline in their training."

Hani was the 2009 USA Gymnastics Florida State Beam Champion, is a two-time Junior Olympic Nationals Qualifier and was the 2008 USA Gymnastics Regional Beam Champion. Wilson was a member of the Junior Olympic National Team the past two seasons.

While Walsh said that both gymnasts are really refined at this point in their development, she does expect some different things from each athlete.

"Kayla is more powerful, and Leah is more graceful," Walsh said.

Walsh said that she was also pleased by the involvement of the families of the two women. Both families seemed very excited by the opportunity that they are getting in becoming Cardinals.

She said that additional future Cardinal gymnasts are still being recruited, but expects those announcements to be made in the Spring Semester.

Along with the announcement of the new signees, the Cardinals have also released their 2009-2010 schedule on the Ball State Sports Web site.

Ball State will open the season by hosting the University of Kentucky on Dec. 5 in an exhibition meet.

"We will be treating the exhibition like a real meet," Walsh said. "We're training really hard to be ready for it."

The team will open its regular season schedule on Jan. 10 at Western Michigan University. Ball State's first regular season home meet will be the Cardinal Classic on Jan. 24. The meet will be held in Worthen Arena.

Walsh said she is excited by some of the new non-conference opponents one this year's schedule. It adds variety to the usual Mid-American Conference meets that are on the schedule every year. She said she is particularly looking forward to the trip to Gainesville, Fla., on March 5 when Ball State will compete against the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina.

"It will give us an opportunity to compete against high quality non-conference competition," Walsh said. "They will get to see what it's like to experience competition against the highest level of skilled gymnasts."